Over a holiday weekend I went on a 3-day hike in the mountains. We had some beautiful views, passed historical remnants, found some giant old growth trees, traversed difficult terrains, laughed a lot, and reflected a lot. I’m grateful for our hiking group who kept us safe and taught me so much. We also experienced a Gaorao 高繞.
A Gaorao is a detour that goes up and around the original trail because the original trail is impassable due to a natural disaster (such as a landslide) or disrepair. They are often steep and arduous. Ours had at least 20 switchbacks, many sketchy narrow ledges with loose rock, was wet and slippery due to being high up in the forest and clouds, and took about an hour to climb.
There was one point where the path had washed almost entirely away and had the tiniest of ropes to hang on to while you shimmied across a 6-inch ledge. The rope ended just short of a gap with no real handholds returning to the sloped trail. I could feel myself starting to panic inside. I paused to compose myself and sent up the loudest silent prayer. I then stretched out my hand, followed by my foot and found just enough footing to scramble up to slightly more levelld ground where I stopped to calm myself down for what still remained ahead of me.
After completing this Gaorao, I reflected on how we also face them in life and ministry. Here are my lessons from a Gaorao 高繞:
1. Travel it with others for encouragement and safety.
2. Take your time. Pace yourself and rest when you need to, so you don’t get overly exhausted and make a move that puts you or others in danger.
3. Pay attention. Keep your mind and your eyes on the task at hand/in the moment. Don’t get stuck on what’s behind you or worry about what may be yet to come.
4. Pray. Lots. It can be hard and scary. You may come to the end of yourself. Pray for protection and the will to keep going when it feels absolutely impossible.
5. Take it one step at a time. It may look and feel endless, but the gaorao will come to an end… eventually.
6. Celebrate when you get to the top/the end.
7. Apply what you learned to the next Gaorao, because there will likely be another one on a trail you travel in the future.
Cheryl – Rural Tainan, Taiwan
Watch to find out a bit more about Cheryl & Lizzy’s work in Tainan: